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PART EIGHTH.
OF THE PEACE OR REST OF A SOUL IN A STATE OF UNION.



CHAPTER IV.


THE SOUL IN UNION RESTS FROM THE REPROOFS OF CONSCIENCE.


[See in connection with this chapter the remarks in Chap. VIII., Pt. 4th, on the religion of love as compared with that of obligation.]

Of the conflicts of those who are but partially sanctified. — Different state of those whose hearts are filled with love. — References to the Scriptures. — Explanation of the remarks found in Madame Guyon and others. — Holy persons not only freed from the reproofs of conscience, but moved to action by holy love rather than by feelings of constraint. — Of the peace and happiness of such.

IN analyzing and explaining the elements of that pure and heavenly peace, which our Saviour has left both as the inheritance and the characteristic of truly holy souls, we proceed to remark, further, that they are at rest from
the reproofs of conscience. This is a state of things very different from that which is experienced by souls that are only partially united with God. The latter, as they are going through the transition state from love commencing to love completed, have a constant conflict in themselves. Their inward good and evil are arrayed in opposition to each other. They see the right; but they continue, in some degree at least, to follow the wrong. And just so far as this is the case, they are under condemnation. And under such circumstances, they cannot fail to be uneasy and unhappy.

2. It is not so with the soul which is given to God without reserve, and which loves him with the whole heart. Such a soul, renovated and purified by the Holy Spirit, may be said to be clothed with innocence; or, if such expressions should be considered as too strong by some, certain it is, that conscience does not condemn it. "There is no condemnation," says the apostle Paul "to them which are in Christ Jesus; who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." In the epistles of John, also, are expressions, which distinctly recognize the state of freedom from condemnation.

3. And this explains a remark which we sometimes find in the lives of devoted Christians. It seems to them as they sometimes say, as if they had lost their conscience. In the writings of Madame Guyon, both in the work entitled the "Torrents," and also in her "Letters," there are repeated references to this peculiar state of experience. [Les Torrents, Pt. II., Ch. 2, § 3. Lettres, Vol. V., Let. 22, § 6.] The expressions which such persons employ have their foundation in the contrast of the present with their past position. They think they have lost their conscience, because they are
not now the subjects of a certain mode of its activity. Formerly their good was so much mixed with evil, that they were constantly the subjects, more or less, of inward admonition; so much so, that this seemed to them almost the whole office of conscience. And, accordingly, when they experienced a higher degree of love, and no longer felt the need of such admonitions and reproofs, they seemed, in the absence of its chastisements, to have lost conscience itself.

4. After a while they learn that conscience, operating differently in the evil and the good, has its smiles as well as its frowns; and that its action is felt in that internal approbation which constantly attends them. Angels have conscience; God has conscience; but they never feel its lash; nor is it possible for them, while they remain what they are, ever to know its existence as a part of their own nature, except by the approbation of its smiles. The cessation or rest, therefore, which the persons to whom we allude experience, is not a cessation from conscience, but only from the condemnation of conscience.

5. And this is not all. There is a rest, in holy persons, not only from the
reproofs or condemnations of conscience, (a view which naturally arrests our attention in the first instance,) but also, with proper explanations of the remark, from the compulsory or constraining power of conscience. The constraints of conscience, (which is only another expression for those coercive feelings of obligation which require us to pursue a right course,) precede action; while the reproofs of conscience, on the other hand, follow action. The holy soul, the soul which has passed from a mixed state to a state where holy love becomes the exclusive principle of action, does not appear to experience, and certainly not to be conscious of, those compulsory influences to which we have referred. It does not feel the reproofs of conscience, because it does not do wrong. It does not feel the compulsions or constraints of conscience, because, being moved by perfect love, it fulfills the will of God, and does right without constraint.

And is there, in fact, any occasion for such constraint? Where love is perfect, the motive involved in the constraining power of conscience is not felt, because it is not needed. The subject of such love is re-constituted with a new element of holy affection, with a love-
being or love-existence, such as it never had before. It has freely given itself to God to be moved by him; — and he moves it by making it a "partaker of the divine nature.” So that from this time such an one may be said to act by nature, and not by constraint; by a self-moved life at the centre, and not by a compulsive instigation, which has no higher office than to guard and compel the centre. In having a life of love, flowing first from God, and then from the centre of our spirits, we have that and the whole of that which the constraining instigation of conscience requires; and, this being done, its office in this respect practically ceases. It would be a work of supererogation to drive a soul which goes without driving. Accordingly it is at once appeased in its anger, and quiet in its anxiety. It lays aside its admonitions as well as its scourge; and, as pleased with the good as it is displeased with the wicked, it strews our path with flowers.

6. Thus the soul has rest. From that happy hour, being re-constituted with a love-nature and made love-beings, we become also happy or joyous beings. And this is so much the case, that happiness, as well as love flowing out of the depths of the soul, may be said to be a part of our nature. What can injure us? Conscience itself becomes the companion and playmate of love, and hides itself in its bosom. Shielded by innocence, we come to God without fear. The soul expands itself as confidingly and lovingly to God's presence and favor, as the flowers open to the sun. God, who before appeared to us in his frowns and as a consuming fire, now "lays his terrors by."